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Executives from CTS Eventim, Superbloom and the Music Venue Trust on the immediate challenges facing the live biz
By James Hanley on 26 Jan 2022
A trio of European live music figures have given their thoughts on rising ticket prices, customer demand and the grassroots circuit as they gear up for the 2022 season.
Speaking in the latest issue of IQ, CTS Eventim COO Alexander Ruoff, Superbloom MD Fruzsina Szep and Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of the UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT), mapped out the forthcoming year for the live business.
Ruoff discussed the long-term ramifications of Covid for the touring business, warning that Covid risk mitigation and rising supply chain costs were likely to have knock-on effects for consumers.
“If costs remain persistently high due to increased requirements for access and hygiene measures, and for suppliers, this will also have an impact on ticket prices in the longer term,” he said, adding that the crisis could lead to further consolidation within the marketplace.
Munich-based CTS posted “encouraging” financial results for Q3 2021, powered by strong ticket sales by major international artists including Ed Sheeran, Genesis and Coldplay, as well as German rock act Udo Lindenberg.
However, Ruoff stopped short of forecasting a swift return to 2019 levels of business.
“We had thought that this would be the case in 2021, but the virus has taught us that it is unpredictable,” he cautioned. “We are confident for the summer. How the rest of the year will develop is not predictable from today’s perspective.”
“We have to gain back the trust of our fans and the sponsors”
Fruzsina, whose previous roles include festival director for Lollapalooza Berlin and programme director of Sziget Festival in Budapest, spoke of the immediate challenges facing the festival industry.
“We have to gain back the trust of our fans and the sponsors,” she said. “We have to come back in full capacity, and the main restrictions have to disappear in the longer term in order to promote again in a normal and trustful way. The audience is much more careful [about] where they go, what they buy, when, and for which event.”
Goodlive’s Superbloom is set for Olympic Park in Munich from 3-4 September, with artists such as Stromae, David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Glass Animals.
“I feel confident in the festival summer 2022, and I know that many of my dear brothers and sisters in the festival family feel the same,” added Fruzsina.
Whitrick, meanwhile, talked through the MVT’s developing relationships with associations across the world. The organisation unveiled Venues Day International – the first global event aimed exclusively at grassroots music venue operators and owners – last year in partnership with Live DMA (Europe), Music Policy Forum (North America), Canadian Live Music Association, Live Music Office Australia and NIVA (US).
“We hope to hold an online International Venues Day in 2022 to develop the network further, with the eventual aspiration of holding an in-person international version of our established national networking event,” she said.
“Our sector is made up of dedicated, resilient people who will do everything they can to persevere. Things are tough, but over 900 venues are still here, and we will continue to work collectively to support each other and tackle long and short-term challenges. If we can fix some of the things that make the finances so precarious – business rates, VAT on tickets, ownership of the buildings – then our venues can get on with presenting amazing shows, connecting audiences with new artists, and providing vital spaces for the development of new music.”
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